TVA Estimates it Could Spend $825 Mil. to Clean up Ash Spills

Date: February 13, 2009

Source: News Room

The Tennessee Valley Authority said that cleaning up the Kingston Fossil Plant fly ash spill will cost at least $525 million and could cost as much as $825 million, and the price could rise because of litigation expenses, fines and regulations. The cost will depend on the disposal method of the 5.4 million cubic yards of ash that spilled across 275 acres in Roane County, Tenn., on Dec. 22. Already, four lawsuits have been filed in connection with the spill, and notices of intent to file three others have been recorded. According to an SEC filing, final options for storing the spilled ash include keeping it on site and moving it by barge or truck to a developed landfill, but cleanup costs "could change significantly if TVA is required to use a method of disposal other than what has been considered or the amount of ash to be disposed of changes."

The US EPA notified the TVA that the spill violates the Clean Water Act. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is conducting an investigation that could also result in fines. Moreover, the TVA could face future regulatory requirements, the filing notes, including long-term environmental monitoring and environmental impact studies. If dredging disturbs pollutants like PCBs and mercury that were present in the Emory River before the spill, the filing notes, additional remediation might be required.

So far, drinking water samples taken and analyzed from the Kingston and Rockwood, Tenn., water treatment centers by the Tennessee DEC have indicated that it is safe. The Kingston spill released more than 1 billion gallons of coal sludge, destroying three homes and damaging nine others.

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